The stained glass windows by Marc Chagall were originally designed in 1962 for the Synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Centre near Jerusalem. This hospital was the first in the state of Israel. Under Chagall's supervision, Charles Sorlier translated these designs into the present set of lithographs in 1964 at Atelier Mourlot.
The Hebrew Bible was his primary inspiration for this work, particularly Genesis 49 and Jacob’s blessings of his twelve sons, and Deuteronomy 33 where Moses blesses the twelve tribes.
Chagall's poetic interpretation of Jacob’s blessings goes beyond the literal. Images are populated by floating figures of animals, flowers, fish, and numerous Jewish symbols. As Julian Cain notes in his introductory essay to the plates, for Chagall the Bible was ‘very much alive...at one moment [it is] history, or it’s a novel, or sometimes pure poetry.’ Ulrike Gauss, ed., Marc Chagall: The Lithographs, a Catalogue Raisonné (Germany, 1998)